Monday, February 22, 2016

UPDATED: The Police - Reluctant Learners In Our Midst

In many ways it is regrettable that the police apparently are not Spiderman fans. If they were, perhaps they would understand an early and painful lesson learned by Peter Parker, his alter ego: With great power comes great responsibility.

Unfortunately, some police seem to love the power, but want nothing to do with its responsible discharge, as my many posts on their abuse of authority attest to. In fact, when it is pointed out to them, they get downright outraged. Consider, for example, how they have gotten their kevlars in a twist over Beyonce's Superbowl half-time performance. (Start at about the 1:40 mark on the video.):

Whereas you and I might see an energetic celebration honouring and extolling black culture, police unions see a threat to their authority and respect, so much so that they are urging their members to boycott her upcoming concerts by refusing to provide security. To their credit, Toronto police are refusing to take part in such a boycott.

Looking deeply into the mirror to see one's shortcomings is never a pleasant experience, and having those shortcomings pointed out by others seems intolerable to some members of the American constabulary. To be reminded that Black Lives Matter by an impertinent songstress and her troupe, adorned in costumes recalling the black power movement, is more than these sensitive souls seem able to bear.

All of which inspired a spirited piece by Rosie DiManno in today's Star. She begins with these sobering facts:
People killed by the six law enforcement agencies that operate within Miami-Dade County: 14.

Seven were black. Five were Hispanic.

One of the victims was 15 years old.

The first Miami-Dade Police fatality — Feb. 15 — was a bipolar schizophrenic who swung a broom handle at officers. In a July fatal shooting by a Homestead officer (also within Miami-Dade), the same cop had shot and killed two other suspects since 2005 in separate incidents.
In each instance, officers claimed they feared for their lives.

Being a police officer seems to mean never having to say you're sorry. Indeed, it appears that their best defence is a strong offence.
... union president Javier Ortiz has called for a boycott of Beyoncé when the hitmaker kicks off her upcoming world tour in Miami on April 27, already sold out.

Ortiz slammed Beyoncé for her purported anti-police messaging — in a country where, according to comprehensive yearlong tracking by The Guardian into use of deadly force by police, 1,134 black individuals died at the hands of law enforcement in 2015. Despite making up only two per cent of the total U.S. population, African-American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15 per cent of all police-involved death logged by the newspaper’s investigation. Their rate of police-involved deaths was five times higher than for white men of the same age bracket.
Move along. Nothing to see here seems to be the uniform response to such statistics.
...a lot of cops — or at least their union leaders — are jumping on the trash- Beyoncé bandwagon, claiming, on zero evidence, that such populist messaging threatens police lives. Of course, that’s the shut-up admonition they’ve always employed when confronted by perceived enemies of the thin blue line, notably against hip-hop and rap artists they’ve vilified, but more generally against any individual or group that challenges their authority.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that policing is not even listed in the top 10 of dangerous professions as determined by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
the National Sheriffs’ Association [blames] Beyoncé for four officer deaths last week. And a Tennessee sheriff who held a press conference after shots were fired near his home claimed Beyoncé’s video may have been partly responsible.
All of which may strike many as self-serving rhetoric from an institution that seems to lack any capacity for introspection and self-criticism.

Contrary to what some may think, I am not anti-police. What I am vehemently opposed to, however, is unbridled power that feels it should be answerable to no one.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Anon for providing this link to a Guardian database tracking people killed in the U.S. by the police. Accompanying pictures of the victims are quite revealing.


  1. You'd be interested in the database The Guardian newspaper keeps on people in the US killed by police. Runs about 100 per month.

    1. Thanks, Anon. That is very useful information, with some very telling statistics.